Central Florida’s Cost of Living Pushes Families to Financial Brink

ALICE Family

The thought of a family requiring a six-digit income to simply survive in Central Florida is something that made Orlando Sentinel opinion columnist Scott Maxwell do a double take. That is, until he started to do the math, as outlined in his recent column, in which he cites Heart of Florida United Way data.  

According to HFUW’s Household Survival Budget, which is based on updated research conducted from public sources, it costs approximately $90,912 for a family of four (infant & toddler) to survive in Central Florida. 

Survival Budget Family 2024

ALICE households are some of the most susceptible to increasing costs of living. ALICE®, an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, represents the growing number of individuals and families who are technically above the federal poverty line but still struggle to make ends meet. These families are working but are unable to afford the basic necessities of housing, childcare, food, transportation, healthcare, and technology.   

That means that even if a family of four is earning $90,000, there is still no room for savings.   

No room for extras like clothes, debt or student loan payment, equipment for a job…nothing. This is strictly to make ends meet, keep a roof over one’s head, put food on the table, and ensure proper insurance and transportation.  
There is nothing left for the unexpected.   
Surviving Without Support  
It is also important to note that, while struggling to survive,  ALICE individuals and families often earn too much to qualify for public assistance.  
According to the recently released ALICE in Focus: Children report, while 18% of all Central Florida children were deemed as living in poverty in 2019,  39% – more than twice as many – lived in families defined as ALICE.   
The most current data available in the report finds that  more than 147,200 Central Florida ALICE children could not access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, but still suffered from food insecurity. Likewise, more than 99,700 Central Florida ALICE children did not receive medical assistance.  

Additionally, having two working parents didn’t guarantee financial stability, either. Among households with two working adults, 42% of children in Central Florida were living in families whose income still didn’t meet the cost of basic needs.  

What You Can Do  
To support ALICE families struggling to survive, you can:  

  • Share and encourage the use of this information to inspire change   
  • Advocate for ALICE families 
  • Donate to Heart of Florida United Way so that we can strategically invest in community partners to support ALICE families   

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